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UN Experts Denounce Iran's 'Discriminatory' Vetting Of Candidates

A man checks a printed electoral poster of presidential candidate and former top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani at a printing house in Tehran on May 26.
A group of independent human rights experts from the United Nations has voiced concern about the mass disqualification of potential candidates in Iran's upcoming presidential election, particularly of all 30 women who applied.

The disqualifications are "discriminatory" and violate international norms and standards, they said.

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"This mass disqualification including that of women wishing to stand in the presidential elections is discriminatory and violates fundamental right to political participation, and runs contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified," the UN statement quoted the organization's special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, as saying.

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"Any restrictions on this right must be based on objective and reasonable criteria without distinction of any kind, including race, gender, religion, and political or other opinion," Shaheed added, according to a statement by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Iran's Guardians Council, a body of conservative clerics and jurists who vet candidates, last week approved just eight of nearly 700 individuals who registered as candidates for the June 14 vote, including a former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. All 30 women candidates were disqualified.

The UN experts also said threats to journalists and limitations imposed on freedom of expression and opinion in the media could stifle critical news coverage and compromise the vote.

The UN's special rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, was quoted as urging Iran's government to release imprisoned journalists and put an end to threats and persecution, saying such threats "seriously undermine the inclusiveness and fairness of the electoral process."
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